Ernest Homer Mays, Jr. passed away in his sleep on Monday, September 2, 2019 at Groveton Nursing Home in Groveton, Texas.
Mr. Mays, known first as Homer Junior and then later as Homer, was born August 20, 1923 at the family home near West Columbia, Texas in Brazoria County. His parents were Ernest Homer Mays, Sr. of West Columbia and Edith Avera Mays, originally from Kentwood, Louisiana. After graduating from West Columbia High School in 1940, Homer attended Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas and met his future wife, Lela Mae Polk of Jacksonville, Texas, who was also a student at Lon Morris. After finishing his courses at Lon Morris, Homer worked at Dow Chemical Company in Freeport until he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps on October 30, 1942. He was stationed in Alaska in 1943 as part of the Cold Weather Testing Detachment set up by General Hap Arnold. The detachment tested airplanes and aeronautical equipment to determine the effects of extremely low temperatures at extended periods of time on the operational effectiveness and reliability of the planes and equipment. Homer remained a member of the Detachment, based in Fairbanks, Alaska, for the remainder of the war. In June 1943, Homer was granted leave to fly to the airbase in Amarillo, Texas, were he and Lela were married. After the wedding, he returned to his station in Alaska. Not much honeymoon! Homer left the military on November 30, 1945 and then attended the University of Texas in Austin. He and Lela later moved to Bay City, Texas in 1949, started a family, and eventually settled in Houston in 1950. Working as an accountant, Homer joined Carrier-Houston Corporation, a subsidiary of Carrier Air Conditioning, in 1958. He remained at Carrier-Houston until he retired as Financial Controller on August 1, 1982. Homer and Lela expanded their lake house in Onalaska as a retirement home and remained there until Lela’s health required her placement in a nursing home. They both moved to Lufkin at that point and Homer lived in an assisted living center near the nursing home where Lela was placed. Lela passed away in 2004, and Homer continued to live in Lufkin until moving to Buffalo, Texas to live with his son and daughter-in-law. In 2014, Homer chose to move to Groveton, Texas to live with his other son and remained there until late 2016, when he returned to the assisted living center in Lufkin. In early 2019, Homer’s health required his placement at Groveton Nursing Home, where he remained until his death.
Homer is predeceased by his parents; his younger brother, Avera Longstreet Mays; nephews, Carl Wayne Polk, David Dumond Polk and Kim Alan Mays; and his niece, Peggy Polk Boepple, among others.
He is survived by his sons, Jerald Polk Mays of Groveton and Richard Roy Mays and his wife Judy, both of Buffalo, grandson and his family, Ryan James Mays and wife Beth of Spring, Texas; great-grandchildren, Kellen and Kinsey, also of Spring; nephews and their families, Lt. Gen. Steven R. Polk (USAF) (ret.) of New Braunfels, Kenneth W. Polk of Texas, and Wayne Derrick of Kingston-on-Thames, U.K.; nieces and their families, Kayla Mays Lentz of Fairhope, Alabama, Kerri Mays Philhower of Princeton, New Jersey and Kristi Mays Sparta of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; first cousins and their families, Winston C. Avera, Jr. of Lake Jackson, Texas, Jan Humphreys of East Columbia and Martha John Avera DeWitt of Helotes, Texas; and his remaining brother-in-law, and his family, Alton Preston Polk, Jr. of Rowlett, Texas.
Because he was granted a long life, Homer was predeceased by almost all his longtime friends, including Mosby and Elsie Lindsay, Ernest and Norma Friend, and Bill and Mary Carnathon.
Homer was an ardent fan of the Texas Longhorns. He and Lela adored their dog, Pepe, and took him with them on their travels across the U. S.
A memorial service for Homer will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, September 11, 2019 in the Henderson Chapel of First United Methodist Church, with Rev. Dr. Jerome Brimmage officiating. His ashes will be buried next to his wife’s ashes in the family plot in Columbia Cemetery in West Columbia, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Homer’s memory may be made to First United Methodist Church, 805 E. Denman Avenue, Lufkin, TX 75901.
Services have been placed in the trust of Gipson Funeral Home.
Condolences may be offered at www.gipsonfuneralhome.com